Two Bad Things, Worse Together: U.S. Widens Violent Conflicts as Forces Hit the Wall

Posted: October 29, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Strategy 101: When you overstretched your forces,

Coalition forces in Afghanistan have “now reached their limit”, according to General Sir Michael Rose, former commander of UN forces in Bosnia…Gen Rose warns there are not enough combat troops to continue the momentum against the Taliban.

do not do this:

…[O]fficials said the raid Sunday, apparently the first acknowledged instance of U.S. ground forces operating in Syria, was intended to send a warning to the Syrian government. “You have to clean up the global threat that is in your back yard, and if you won’t do that, we are left with no choice but to take these matters into our hands,” said a senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the cross-border strike.

The United States has offered similar justifications for recent cross-border strikes in Pakistan, where it has launched missile attacks and at least one air assault against suspected members of Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgency. “As targets present themselves, and are identified . . . they become more and more at risk. Just like in Pakistan, there will be steps taken to deal with it,” the senior official said.

Jesus said, “Those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” That’s a clear warning, and the U.S. should heed it. A sword can cause you to perish in all sorts of ways. You might provoke the blow that kills you. You might cut yourself. Your swing might miss and you might murder someone you love. And the weight of a sword on your belt might cause you to drown as you swim through rough waters.

The violent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq spread to neighboring countries as the situation metasticizes. The U.S. should think ahead a few moves. A Syrian response might include an activation of Hezbollah against the U.S. forces in the region. They might take actions inside Lebannon. They might strike…Israel.  See how quickly this could get out of hand? What if an angry Israel learns from our example and not only responds, but lashes out at other perceived threats in a fit of “self-defense?” Think Iran. Think backlash. Think conflagration.

Beyond the strategic uncertainties, other costs accrue rapidly due to the U.S.’s choice to use violence. The poor and the merely nearby die. Words like “collateral damage” and “double effect” are not large enough to hide moral complicity with murder. (Thom Stark wrote about this on his blog as well, although I think he’s too easy on Sen. Obama and the implications of his proposals.)

Violence has a life of its own. It uses you; you don’t use it.

  1. Thom Stark says:

    Great post.

    I’m not uncritical of Obama’s policies on Afghanistan and Pakistan. In this case I was merely pointing out the important difference between secret, unannounced raids, and Obama’s commitment to exhaust diplomacy, for which he is (and was again in this case) being ridiculed by McCain. Obama represents the more sane of two options, and so I am resistant to easy attempts to equate Obama with Bush or McCain. Obama will wage war, but not in the same sense as Bush/McCain. Obama is nationalistic, but not to the extreme of Bush/McCain. Obama is a capitalist, but one with much better, more humane sensibilities than Bush/McCain.

    At any rate, come November 5th, I’ll be stepping up my criticism of Obama quite a bit. First thing’s first, however.

  2. dcrowe says:

    Hi Thom! Thanks for stopping in. I should clarify: I note that you have nuanced views of Obama and McCain. I was just noting that my link to your article wasn’t necessarily a moderation of my previous criticisms, since I think it’s safe to say I’m more “down” on Obama than you are (I think). I also should have given you due credit, as you were put in the position of defending a preference between two candidates in the comments, so naturally you’d be “up” on your preference (who I voted for, by the way) during that particular conversation.

    Which is funny, seeing as how I was part of Obama’s larger media effort professionally for a while 🙂

  3. Thom Stark says:

    Anyway, a friend of mine just visited us here in Tennessee, after visiting his brother further east–his brother who just got back from Iraq. According to this Marine, my friend says, they are giving his battalion a year off, before calling them back for the invasion of Pakistan. According to my friend’s brother, the policy on the ground is NOT to fire on any “terrorist/s” moving into Pakistan. Apparently, they are allowing the “terrorists” to regroup and rebuild inside Pakistan, to create the conditions necessary to warrant a full-scale U.S. military invasion of Pakistan, a full-scale third war in 2010.

    Obviously I don’t know what kind of validity this has. I find it startling that such a controversial strategy would just be common knowledge among lower-level troops, even lower-level officers like my friend’s brother. But it is a strategy in keeping with the raison d’être of the Cheney administration.

    We need to fight this, and if it turns out to be false, all the better.

  4. Thom Stark says:

    I just read your response. I think we’re on the same page. And like I said, I will be stepping up my criticism of Obama after next Tuesday. Then we can be “down on Obama” together. 🙂 Meantime, I’m trying to use what little influence I have (VERY little) to make sure McCain doesn’t get in, which he won’t (and it won’t have much to do with me). I have criticisms to make of Obama; I just want Obama to hear them from inside the White House.

  5. Thom Stark says:

    Michael Iafrate has a great post on this also.

  6. Thom Stark says:

    Well, the comments on his post are substantive. (Sorry for the comment barrage!)

  7. dcrowe says:

    I don’t mind comment barrages! They pad my blog stats, which I obsess over. 🙂 I’m checking out the link now.

  8. stuperb says:

    loving this discussion. keep it up, boys!

    also, dcrowe, sorry to bug you, but i left you a comment on your about page that i’d love you to delete after you’ve read. if you decide to do a post on a similar topic, i’d love to link to you from my site.

    (i apologize for the intrusion here)


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